Isaiah Washington isn’t happy because the actor who was fired from “Grey’s Anatomy” is best remembered for allegedly using anti-gay slur.
As Washington explained in a new, unbanned interview, he was falsely accused of slandering co-star TR Knight in 2006. Washington told Tavis Smiley on KBLA Talk 1580 that portraying him as anti-gay was one way that people in the hit ABC medical drama They tried to use him as a “scapegoat to cover up other problems in the group.”
Those problems included how Patrick Dempsey was a ruthless “tyrant” who got away with terrorizing others in the group because he was a white star, Washington, 58, said. Plus, series star Ellen Pompeo has been silent about Dempsey, with Washington claiming she got $5 million “under the table” during the #MeToo hey so she wouldn’t tell the world “how toxic and disgusting Patrick Dempsey really was.”
“I didn’t know[the accusation of homophobic]would stick with me so hard,” said Washington, who denied it was anti-gay, but I figured out why.” It was an agenda to cover up the toxic and bad behavior of many of my former co-stars on that show. And the top of that will be Patrick Dempsey.”
Washington said he initially auditioned for the role eventually played by Dempsey, heroic neurosurgeon Derek Shepherd, aka “McDreamy,” but Pompeo, who plays Dr. Meredith Gray, was opposed to any black actress playing her in love, according to Washington.
Washington said the actress “made the executive decision” not to hire him for the role. That’s because “she had a black boyfriend, she just didn’t feel comfortable.”
Pompeo admitted to the New York Post in 2013 that it would have been “too close to home” for her to be part of an interracial couple on TV. “I didn’t want him,” Pompeo said of the idea of Washington being the center of attention.
Instead, Washington was portrayed as the powerful and brilliant heart surgeon Dr. Preston Burke, and Sandra Oh played his love interest. As for Pompeo’s relationship with Oh and other characters, she may not be willing to admit that she was “nervous” about their success, Washington said.
Washington began his career collaborating with director Spike Lee on the films “Crooklyn”, “Clockers”, “Girl 6” and “Get on the Bus”. In the latter, Washington played a gay black man traveling in a bus to participate in the Million March.
Meanwhile, behind-the-scenes drama has always been a part of Grey’s Anatomy’s history. The blockbuster series has been on the air for 18 seasons and has contributed to the emergence of Pompeo and showrunner Shonda Rhimes as feminist icons and power players in Hollywood.
Some of the behind-the-scenes drama, along with more sordid tales of co-stars’ disagreements and the divas’ behavior, are spelled out in the recently released oral history book How to Save a Life: The Inside Story of Gray’s Anatomy. In the book, writer and CEO James DeBarriott asserts that there were HR issues with Dempsey, who was “group terrors” and leaving cast members with “PTSD.” Dempsey left the show in 2015 after 11 seasons.
Last month, Pompeo also placed herself in the middle of a backlash on social media, According to BuzzFeed News. In the podcast that bears her name, the actress thought she was sharing a funny story when she described a heated conversation with Denzel Washington, when the Oscar-winning guest directed an episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” in 2016.
“This is a good Denzel story,” Pompeo begins, before recalling how they “walked into it” after giving another direction to an actor without consulting Denzel Washington first. When Denzel Washington said, “I’m the director,” Pompeo said she called it an expletive and exclaimed, “This is my show. This is my collection.”
For Isaiah Washington, Pompeo’s description of the fight with Washington was an example of how “she thinks she’s great with black people like that, but she’s not.”